Table of Contents
The current expanding global reach of numerous organizations has enlarged and expanded interest in the topic of expatriate management. Expatriates appear to be home country nationals, who are sent by the parent company in order to work provisionally in another country. The current paper will provide a detailed literature review on expatriate management and define managerial implications within UAE in order to make managerial actions and operations more appropriate for the global companies and expatriates.
Early works on the management of expatriates concentrated on the worth and cost of “failure” (outlined as an “early return”) in regard to a global assignment (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 213). As the work on expatriate management started to expand, it began to cover a broader assortment of probable issues and challenges. Researchers typically suggest that a lasting record of attributes, capacities, and skills appears to be crucial for the success in an expatriate assignment, and these skills can be either selected or evolved through experience and training (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 214). The present literature actually demonstrates that turnover among repatriates appears to be elevated and problematical. On the other hand, a more recent tendency stands for the insertion of the prospects of the host country nationals who operate with expatriates (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 214). Thus, when the prospects of the company and its management are reported, it oftentimes incorporates such extensive statistics as the duration of time of the standard expatriate appointment, the provision of trainings, the international backgrounds of upper management, etc. Therefore, a systematical inquiry and examination of the challenges for expatriate management from the perspective of international human resource (IHR) managers concerning the home organizations appears to be the most missing issue in current literature (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 214). The literature review demonstrates that there is an extensive lacuna between researchers and practitioners, especially in regard to the HR management.
The facts demonstrate that academic researchers have long hypothesized that inappropriate enrollment and assortment practices contribute to expatriate entanglements (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 216). Thus, the literature review analyzing HR processes prior to departure demonstrates that there might be a collection of skills and competencies (beyond technical capabilities), which should be regarded in the selective procedure in order to assist in maximizing the likelihood of assignment prosperity (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 216). For example, possible expats are supposed to have appropriate language capabilities, cross-cultural understanding and susceptibility, pliability, conviviality, impartiality, high acceptance of ambiguity and stress, a conjoint negotiation style, a cosmopolitan focus, and a sincere interest in learning about other cultures (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 216). A smaller research flow in this area has endeavored to anticipate the feasible expat’s “readiness to recognize” an overseas assignment while utilizing such variables as marital status, prior international practice, ethnocentrism, career orientation and concentration, spouse career collaboration, organizational engagement, attitudes towards resettlement/relocation, etc (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 216). In fact, both research flows demonstrate that the process of enrollment and selection of expatriates appears to be comparatively formal, organized, and rational (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 217). Therefore, the decision maker should reach the decisions regarding the expatriate selection in order to minimize the hazards by basing decisions on technical capacities and individual observation of performance (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 217). This is specifically accurate in situations where there is a pressure in making decision quickly (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 217).
In regard to the assignment reception, the literature demonstrates that feasible expats ponder and confront individual and family interests with their reception of the degree to which abruption of an offer will impede their careers (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 217). Therefore, the prior research suggests that spousal career issues and children’s education appear to be both the biggest challenges in making someone accept an international assignment. The facts demonstrate that approximately 80 percent of the international assignment abruptions are caused by the spouse career concerns (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 217). In addition, it appears that the majority of expats are married males with children. The cross-cultural training is efficient at enhancing the odds of success in an expatriate assignment (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 217). In fact, the vast majority of IHR managers observe pre-departure cross-cultural training favorably. Moreover, the literature review demonstrates that appropriately 21 percent of the organizations require this type of training (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 218). The researches and literature on expatriate assignment typically concern adjustment, culture shock, and early returns. The majority of researches demonstrate a low level of concern with early returns. Furthermore, the topic also regards expatriate performance and assignment success (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 218). The literature review suggests a two-by-two model, which combines both job execution and expatriate adaptation (including both expatriate satisfaction and expatriate “satisfactoriness”). Some of the researches argue that prosperity at both expatriation and repatriation stages has to be observed from individual and organizational viewpoints (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 219). Thus, the above-mentioned perspective suggests that high turnover among repatriates, for instance, may not necessarily be a “failure”. In fact, it might be regarded as a success if the repatriate transmits beneficial, precise, and implicit knowledge obtained back from the parent company even if the individual ultimately takes his/her new capabilities and knowledge to another company, which probably appreciates them more (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 219).
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The researches also study compensation and benefits. In fact, an academic research on expatriate compensation issues appears to be diffused regardless of the fact that the recognition of sufficiency of compensation issues in expatriation is present (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 220). The frequently cited issues stand for those ones connected with the total cost of posting an expatriate (specifically an American one), impartiality, and equity problems when compensation and benefit packages are contrasted with expats versus HCNs or TCNs (third-country nationals) (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 220). In fact, the researches propose several solutions, while some of the former argue that expat compensation has to be more tightly leveled with payment regimen in the host country in order to elude the indignation that HCNs and TCNs sense towards the “lavish” compensation packages (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 220). In addition, some of the recent studies on age and expatriate performance suggest that in cultures, which ascribe wisdom to older employees, higher payment for such employees might not be recognized negatively (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 220).
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The analysis of repatriation demonstrates that merely 35 percent of IHR managers believe their companies did a good job managing the repatriation procedures (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 221). One of the surveys reports an attrition rate of 35 percent during the first year after an international assignment (contrary to an all-employee average of merely 10 percent), while the other demonstrated a second-year-back attrition rate at as high as 26 percent (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 221). Companies are obviously conversant that this is a serious issue as 70 percent of them account for having written repatriation policies, 90 percent appear to have repatriation discussions with employees, and 98 percent help expats in finding a new job in the organization (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 221). In fact, all percentages appear to be essentially higher than historical averages. Nevertheless, the IHR managers report that the job assistance is often informal, while the evident shortage of strategic career planning retains the returned expat with little or no possibility to utilize the innovative capabilities and knowledge obtained on international assignment (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 221). The analysis of career impact and repatriate turnover reveals that expats are afraid of the fact that they will be forgotten while overseas (“out of sight, out of mind”) and are interested whether the company really values international experience (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 221). The majority of expats are concerned with the character of the future job assignment when they return home. Researchers frequently note that an issue in repatriation concerns the fact that expats generally have no job guarantee at the completion of their assignments, which results in high employee dissatisfaction with repatriation policies and practices. The article demonstrates that approximately 74 percent of the US expats do not have a plan to work for the same organization one year after repatriation (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 222). This extraordinarily high figure appeared to be the basis for recommending the formulation of “repatriate teams” consisting of successfully repatriated expats, HR, and others to appease the transition back to the home office (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 222). The literature review demonstrates that the psychological contract appears to be a mediator between employers’ practices and expatriates’ outcomes including the intent to quit and commitment. Due to the negative view of numerous expats concerning their organization’s repatriation policies, the psychological contract might appear to be a beneficial implement in generating more positive repatriation outcomes (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 222). On the contrary, repatriates’ outcomes should be revised in regard to both employee and company concerns. The acknowledgement should be provided to newer models of employee careers such as “boundarylessness” and in admission of the fact that particular types of expatriate assignments (for instance, purely technical) might not bring specific benefits to the company in terms of the knowledge achievements that warrant superordinate efforts at retention (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 222). Finally, the literature review demonstrates that there has been little research on the question of how the reduction in pay and benefits that occurs upon repatriation affects performance, job satisfaction, and turnover intentions after the expatriate returns home (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 222). Thus, if compensation expectations are unrealistically high prior to the expatriate assignment, they may be even higher after a three-year posting.
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Research Aims and Objectives
In fact, there are two principal objectives of the current review. Firstly, the review attempts to define innovative and future research guidelines in expatriate management (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 214). Secondly, the utilization of an investigative example and model of IHR managers provides the possibility to partly correct the shortage of consideration and attentiveness to the expectations the group of managers can have in regard to the principal challenges of managing the expatriation and repatriation cycle (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 214). Therefore, the major aim stands for the defining of the expatriate management research questions of interest to international human resource (IHR) managers.
The interviews presented in the paper demonstrate that HR process prior to departure appears to be informal and unstructured. As most assignments were grounded on specific business requirements, the selection procedure was generally stimulated by technical skills. All IHR managers believe that only the ‘best people’ were offered overseas assignment because of the significance of these assignments in strategic and operational perspective (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 217). In addition, if there is no punishment for abruption of the offer, then the employee’s self-assessment will appear as the primary defining agent. However, when the abruption appears as a “blotch” on one’s career record, then candidates might feel that they have no choice, while self-assessment of capabilities and interests is less appropriate (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 217). In fact, approximately 75 percent of assignments appeared to be technical in nature, and there was practically no pressure to acknowledge these assignments from a career perspective (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 217). Nevertheless, the other 25 percent of assignments appeared to be developmental and managerial, while the feasible expat felt more pressure to accept. In accordance with the IHR managers’ interviews, the instant concern of possible expat appeared to be financial (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 217). It demonstrates that companies, which send employees overseas for a long time, reported that some employees had “heard through the grapevine”, which demonstrates that an overseas assignment might appear to be a financial windfall (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 217). Therefore, a cross-cultural training appears to be a good idea (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 218). Some of the companies provided predeparture training for those who requested it. Nevertheless, numerous expats, spouses, and originating managers demonstrate minor interest. Despite the fact that pre-departure cross-cultural training had newly been “mandated” in different companies, the IHR managers estimated that over half the company’s expats still left home without it (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 218). Moreover, the interviews demonstrate that sample underwent practically no early returns (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 21). The only company which encountered the highest level of early return rate demonstrates that the initial reason for the fact that the expats could not complete their assignment stood for them being hired away by the emulation (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 219). The low early returns rate coincides with little concern with adjustments or culture shock. Nevertheless, when the IHR managers mentioned adjustment problems, they typically remarked about the spouse and not the expat. It presupposes that adjustment does not appear as a typical issue for the expats themselves because they went directly to work and spent the majority of their time at the office operating and executing work issues analogous to those back home. The adjustment probably concerns the insulation by the common corporate culture and English language skills (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 219). Moreover, as the expats had already spent substantial time in the destination country, they were less probable to be “shocked” by any discrepancies in national culture. Therefore, if “adjustment” appears to be a problem, it cannot be regarded as a cross-cultural issue in nature, but rather as an adjustment to be at home with children versus working (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 219). The paper does not demonstrate that compensation and benefit issues appear to be the most exasperating challenges (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 220). Similarly to the literature review, the main challenge concerned pay equity perceptions and attitudes of HCNs and TCNs working side-by-side with more highly compensated expats performing roughly the analogous work (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 220). Therefore, the subsequent effects of perceived compensation inequity on individual and unit performance appear to be more important, especially in the long run. Nevertheless, the interviews vividly demonstrate solid discrepancies concerning the expatriates’ compensations (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 220). In fact, one organization was exemplary in regard to its usage of the traditional “balance sheet” approach as for creating a compensation package, including numerous allowances, equalizations, hardship payments, etc. (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 221). More importantly, the interviews reveal that job assistance is often informal, which means that the obvious shortage of strategic career planning leaves the expat with little or no opportunity to utilize innovative capabilities and knowledge obtained on international assignment (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 221). As for staying in touch while out of the country, the interview demonstrated that several companies had creative operational programs (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 221). For example, one firm had created web portals, which allowed employees to view expat policy statements and to communicate with directors, colleagues, and other expats around the globe in chat rooms (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 222). Another firm utilized advanced video conferencing technology (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 222). Nevertheless, the interview does not demonstrate that these implementations had an ultimate impact on a successful repatriation (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 222). Nevertheless, the interviews demonstrate that the repatriate turnover did not appear to be a serious issue even despite the fact that IHR managers believed that the process of repatriation could be enhanced in their companies (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 222). It means that more research attention should be paid to the actual processes in use, while less emphasis should be placed on utilization of repatriate turnover as the dependent variable of interest.
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Managerial Implications within UAE
As IHR managers and their companies appear to be more concerned with expat performance, managerial implications require better specification on the criterion (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 224). It is important to define ‘best’ measures and indicators of the overall expatriate performance, both long- and short-term (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 224). It is also significant to define all possible dimensions of the assignment ‘success’. Finally, it is essential to understand what will balance the objective subsidiary-level outcomes data and expat-level behavioral data in regard to the performance appraisal (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 224). The paper demonstrates that performance appears to have both contextual and task dimensions. Task dimensions appear to be discussed by the IHR managers, and contextual dimensions are also important. The last encompass conducts, which sustain the societal and organizational setting. In terms of the international environment, the possibility to be a good ambassador for one’s home company and home country and to evolve HCN replacements also appears to be a constituent of a contextual performance dimension (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 224). The ‘life-cycled’ view of these dimensions is highly important as well-established international companies might tend to evaluate both dimensions of performance, while newly established ones might merely evaluate task performance. The paper also demonstrates that new models are sorely required for the managerial implications as they allow thinking differently regarding the overall international assignment success. In fact, the demonstrated two-by-two and nine-dimensional models appear to be a good start in the appropriate direction. If crucial antecedents and principal consequence could be connected empirically to different dimensions of expatriate performance, both strictness and appropriateness of managerial implications would be enhanced (McEvoy & Buller, 2013, p. 224). Finally, IHR managers should define, evaluate, and articulate to non-HR types precisely what benefits aside before the company from an expatriate assignment will do this beyond immediate advantage of objective accomplishment with overseas partners.